"Standards are a valuable ally in the transition to a circular economy"

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Muheeb Al-Obaidy
"We are transforming to a circular economy. Standards are a valuable ally for us in this regard."

Muheeb Al-Obaidy
Project leader sustainable building materials at Colruyt Group

Why do we use standards? Two good reasons are safety and cost efficiency. But in addition to this, standards also guide us in the transition from the linear to the circular economy. Muheeb Al-Obaidy explains how standards play an important role within different domains of his life.

"When it comes to standards, I wear different hats. I'm an active user of standards in my position as sustainable building materials project leader at Colruyt Group. But I'm also a doctoral student at the University of Liège, where I research standards and contribute both to their development and to the adaptation of existing standards. Why do we sometimes adapt them? The world is constantly changing, and standards have to reflect that changing reality."

Why are standards so important?

Muheeb: "The European Commission has a clear strategic vision. It's targeting a climate-neutral economy by 2050, which means we are facing some major challenges in the coming decades: protecting the environment and dealing with the climate crisis. In this respect, the shift from a linear to a circular economy is crucial. And standards can help us with that transition. Following standards translates into less waste less and fewer carbon emissions. They help us save resources by guaranteeing sustainable operations."

In what ways do you work with standards?

Muheeb: "I'm actively working with standards in various ways, both as part of my doctoral studies and also in my work at Colruyt Group. There, we use standards in our operations, but I also actively participate in the development of standards. I approach standards from two angles: theory and practice. There is a clear interaction between the two. Standards lay the foundations and set the rules. We work within a theoretical framework, but this can be influenced by practice. With feedback from users, we can fine-tune standards and make sure they evolve. 

As a PhD student, I explore standards with the circular economy in mind. I study how we can adapt them to the circular narrative. Standards are the foundations, but they are not sacred. If day-to-day operations reveal that something is missing, then standards must evolve based on that feedback. This is also a circular process."

Why does Colruyt Group find it important to participate in the development of standards?

Muheeb: "Every project at Colruyt Group has to take sustainability and circularity into account. We believe it's important to make a significant contribution to achieving the European vision of a climate-neutral economy by 2050. Standards are our compass. We're in a race against the clock to transition to a circular economy. And from my point of view, standards are a valuable ally in this."

Wondering how standards can benefit your organisation?

Getting started with standards

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